While many celebrate the arrival of Jon Gruden, what does his hiring actually mean for the Raiders? Which players benefit most from his hiring? To answer those questions, we sat down with Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus to obtain insight.
You mentioned that Jamize Olawale, Clive Walford, and Jared Cook would see increased field time the Gruden offense. Which of the three provides the biggest matchup headache in the new scheme?
“Jamize Olawale stands out as the player who will most benefit from Gruden’s return to Oakland. Similar to Kyle Juszczyk’s role in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, Olawale is a mismatch nightmare as a receiver out of the backfield and can do significant damage on play-action passes.”
As a whole, RaiderNation appeared frustrated with the hiring of Greg Olson as offensive coordinator. Since he left Oakland, he has made a few stops. What makes him a better fit now and what will the new version of the scheme look like?
“Olson won’t call plays with Gruden at the helm. Though he’ll own the ‘offensive coordinator’ title, he will fall into more of a quality control/QB coach role to give added attention to the details and Derek Carr. The scheme will pull bits and pieces from modern West Coast offenses around the league, but it will be of Gruden’s doing – not Olsen.”
Cordarrelle Patterson shined in various roles during 2017. If you were Gruden, how would you utilize his diverse skillset?
“Patterson needs more snaps in the backfield. While I can’t predict Gruden will use him that way, Patterson’s skill set doesn’t mesh well with a traditional wide receiver role given his sub-optimal route-running. If Gruden can cut some branches off his route tree and get him the ball in space near the line of scrimmage, Patterson can thrive in 2018.”
The Raiders will either own the 9th or 10th pick in the draft. What player could contribute and excel immediately from that spot?
“NC State ED Bradley Chubb and UGA LB Roquan Smith stand out as impact starters for the defense at two positions of need for the Raiders. However, both guys could be off the board by the time Reggie McKenzie makes his pick, making Alabama CB Minkah Fitzpatrick the more likely choice. Even with a healthy Gareon Conley, the Raiders’ defense lacks cornerback talent.”
Paul Guenther brings in a new scheme, one that emphasizes the front four getting pressure. What realistic free agent signing would provide a suitable complement to Mack?
“Outside of Dallas Cowboys ED DeMarcus Lawrence, who will likely re-sign with Dallas, the free-agent class of edge defenders isn’t glowing with talent. McKenzie would be smart to avoid opening his wallet for a compliment to Mack in free agency. Instead spend high draft capital on Chubb, Harold Landry, or even Arden Key.”
Which of Gruden’s assistants (non-coordinators) will have the toughest task in 2018? The easiest?
“Whoever steps in as the Raiders’ wide receivers coach will have his hands full this offseason. Especially, if Michael Crabtree is released. Of course, he’ll have Amari Cooper to lean on. But, Seth Roberts, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Johnny Holton won’t give him much to work with in terms of route-running and overall ability. Essentially, he’ll need to make something out of nothing.”
If Marshawn Lynch does not return in 2018, what is the most logical plan of action?
“If Beast Mode walks, Gruden & Co. will need to replace him with a back that can operate in his West Coast offense at a high level, meaning he’ll want to bring in a back that can thrive as a runner and receiver. Dion Lewis and Jerick McKinnon make a lot of sense as free-agent acquisitions. While Saquon Barkley is the obvious choice if McKenzie wants a game-changer in the first round.”
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